Not the first (and probably not the last) Vapiano outlet to open in London, but the new Wardour Street location of this global restaurant group with its fast casual take on serving freshly made Italian cuisine was worthy of a visit and my recommendation.
A recent weeknight dinner at the newly opened and vast two storey Vapiano Soho proved a pleasant pit stop during any otherwise busy week. I liked the concept at this place:
Pasta, pizza, antipasti and salads are ordered by customers directly from the Vapiano Chefs at individual stations within the restaurant and prepared to order in front of guests (a Vapiano chef can make two different pasta dishes simultaneously and in just three minutes). This gives guests the opportunity to order their dishes bespoke with extra garlic, chili, herbs etc. The dishes are ordered using a smart card system, which is tapped onto the till every time a guest orders. The herb gardens within the restaurant are also there for flavour, not just decoration and guests are encouraged to tear off a few basil leaves to add to their meal.
Easy peasy and all that – with your meal made fast and fresh and right in front of you.
And I liked the food too. I had a rather filling and tasty calzone (ham, spicy Italian sausage, mushrooms, mixed herbs, onions, tomato sauce, mozzarella, £8.95). I found it and the other items I had to be reasonably priced (especially for Wardour Street). I appreciated the wine selection too. A bottle of Big Top Zinfandel went well with everything tomato-y.
I don’t think Vapiano’s menu will blow you away, but I reckon the vast majority of folks grabbing a bite here will be pleased and impressed with the offering, service and setting. I was. For the most part anyway. Considering all the focus on efficiency and self servicing, access to a simple jug of tap water during my meal would have been nice. That’s hardly a big issue though, and everything else about the experience was fine.
A smart spot to keep in mind for family dining, casual catch ups and solo outings – Vapiano Soho is located at 84 Wardour Street, W1F 0TQ with outlets at Great Portland Street and Southwark Street and more across Europe, the Middle East and the US. Go to uk.vapiano.com for details.